Since you’re on avinetworks.com, you probably are familiar with the fact that we offer a software load balancer. Well, technically speaking, we offer load balancing services that are software-defined. This may seem like I’m splitting hairs, but it is actually quite significant.
Many of the Fortune 500 use Avi load balancing across data centers and clouds. But this adoption isn’t because Avi is 100% software. It’s because our load balancing is offered as feature-rich, automated, multi-cloud service — not a software appliance. I say “service” because with Avi Networks you don’t manage individual load balancers. You simply decide where you need load balancing, and the Avi Controller seamlessly deploys, scales, and upgrades the Avi Service Engine (what we call our load balancers) as necessary. You actually don’t need to interact with the Service Engine directly.
What AWS, Azure, and GCP have done with virtual machines, Avi Networks has done with load balancing. The cloud provider’s infrastructure services automate VM provisioning and scale up and down to meet your needs. You don’t have to manage each VM individually. Now with the advent of containers and Kubernetes, infrastructure automation and orchestration are requirements to deploy apps at scale. Our founders saw this trend and thought, “Why not do this for load balancing?”
Building a platform to provide consistent, enterprise-grade load balancing services across any environment was no easy task. It took years of R&D from hundreds of the leading minds in application networking from all across the globe. The vast majority of our engineering efforts and the bulk of our 60+ patents have been poured into building the Avi Controller, a separate, intelligent control plane that manages Service Engines across clusters and environments. Through machine learning and closed looped analytics on over 750 metrics, the Avi Controller is context-aware and automates decision making for the load balancers — from autoscaling to self-healing to non-disruptive upgrades to anomaly detection to performance monitoring.
Avi didn’t just build a better load balancer. Avi reinvented load balancing.
This controller-based load balancing service is growing rapidly. We recently reported that Avi has more than doubled enterprise customers and product revenue each year for the past 3 years. However, the rest of the load balancing industry, also known as the ADC industry, is hitting a wall. Their business has always been selling load balancers (appliance), instead of a load balancing service. As enterprises migrate to the cloud and as software eats the data center, other load balancing vendors have moved from offering a hardware appliance to a software appliance. But software doesn’t solve the underlying challenge. The net result is the same headache in a different package. You still need to manually provision load balancers, you still need to deploy active-standby pairs, and you still have to over-provision appliances.
The rest of the ADC industry has missed the mark. Enterprises don’t want a software load balancer appliance. Enterprises don’t want to deal with individual load balancers anymore. They want automated load balancing services that are easy to manage and consume. When you look at the ADC landscape, it is evident that the appliance model is failing.
- F5 Networks offers hardware and software load balancer appliances instead of a controller-based load balancing service. The company bought NGINX to improve their cloud story, but product sales now account for less than 50% of revenue.
- NGINX offers software load balancer appliances instead of a controller-based load balancing service. The company sold itself to F5 Networks because they struggled to penetrate the data center and support business-critical applications in the cloud.
- Citrix offers hardware and software load balancer appliances instead of a controller-based load balancing service. They are currently looking for an acquirer.
- A10 Networks offers hardware and software load balancer appliances instead of a controller-based load balancing service. They are currently looking for an acquirer.
- Kemp offers hardware and software load balancer appliances instead of a controller-based load balancing service. Recently acquired by private equity firm.
The entire ADC industry is struggling with “The Innovator’s Dilemma”. Each of the vendors listed above built their legacy in the late 90s or early 2000s with infrastructure-centric appliances. But today, IT strategies are application-centric and infrastructure is abandoning the appliance and embracing the services model instead.
The future isn’t software. It’s services. Services that just happen to be software.